Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed the acquittal of Joe Agi (SAN) charged with a retired judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adeniyi Ademola and his wife, Ademide for allegedly receiving N30mo and a car worth N8.5m as bribe from the lawyer.
In a judgment on Monday evening, a three-man panel of the Court of Apeal led by Justice Stephen Adah, held that the prosecution failed the prove its case against Agi.
The court, in a unanimous judgment, affirmed the decision of the trial court to strike down of sections 53 and 60 of the Corrupt Practices and other related offences Act 2000.
The judgment was on the appeal filed by the Federal Government, through the office of the Attorney general of the Federation (AGF) against an earlier judgment of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja which acquitted the three defendants.
The Federal Goverment filed three appeals against the judgment. While the Court of Appeal gave judgment on Monday in the appeal relating to Agi’s acquittal, it is yet to deliver judgment in the two appeals against the acquittal of Justice Ademola and his wife.
Justice Olabisi Ige, who read the lead judgment, agreed that the provisions of the sections 53 and 60 of the ICPC Act, that required the defendants to prove that the gifts by Agi to the Ademolas were not for gratification.
Justice Ige said the provisions contradicted the provision of the Constitution, which presume a defendant to be innocent until proved otherwise under the nation’s “accusatorial” criminal justice system.
He said the appellate court could not review the decision of Justice Jude Okeke of the FCT High Court striking down the provisions as the prosecution failed to file any grounds of appeal against the lower court’s finding.
“In the absence of an appeal against the lower court’s decision, I cannot decide whether the said provisions apply to this case,” the judge said.
He added that the judgment of the lower court, striking down the said provisions subsists “forever until they are set aside by a higher court”.
Justice Ige held that the trial court rightly dismissed the case with all the 18 counts contained in it.